Enginursday: The best part of waking up...

Many of us at SparkFun consume coffee for breakfast, maybe lunch or dinner, but for some go-getters it's all three. Join me as I dig into the habits and trends of our breakroom coffee setup.

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I love coffee. I have at least one cup a day, usually in the morning. There are several options for how I get my morning dose. Two that I usually employ are: take care of it myself, or drink the coffee provided to us by SparkFun. The coffee situation here is a typical commercial setup and works as advertised. More times than not I drink coffee from my French press/hand grinder setup at my desk. Snob? Maybe. But I think we all deserve an excellent cup of coffee. Having control of most variables makes for a great cup of joe, every time. Does that same enjoyment scale up? Is there a reason to care? I don’t know. But I decided to focus my attention on our coffee habits. Tracking trends, monitoring consumption, time of day, time of year, how many cups, how often, etc. How do we “coffee” here at SparkFun? And could we/should we do it better?

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By the time I arrive there is a carafe already brewed. Whoever gets to the office early and has coffee already prepared, us coffee drinkers thank you! Yes, sometimes I skip my usual morning ritual and grab a cup form the breakroom to quickly start my morning. That’s how I know that there is a difference between my method and SparkFun’s method. Is one better than the other? Not for me to decide. But if there were to be any changes made, we need a baseline to work from.

There are many components to making a good, maybe great cup of coffee: quality of bean, quality of water, brew time and brew method are a few. These can be controlled if a little attention to detail is given. I will give it. We are lucky, we have a great coffee bean supplier, filtered water and some nice commercial equipment. I think with some minor tweaks here and there, we can take our coffee game to the next level.

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There are some that only use coffee as a caffeine delivery device and that is totally fine. But why not take the mundane, the utility, the basic and add some flair? Making coffee is a meditation for some (me), and a craft for others. But for most of us it is just part of a routine. Will coffee habits change? I think once you have a “good” cup of coffee and become "woke" (pun very intentional), you will try not to revert back to anything else. Am I wrong?

There are a few groups of coffee drinkers here at SparkFun (that I've noticed):

  • Utility - I just need caffeine.
  • Oh, coffee - You happen to be around and the carafe/pot isn't empty.
  • Curious - Why does the coffee taste this way? Could it be better? Maybe with butter, MCT oil, etc.?
  • Home barista - I use a scale, water filter and have multiple brewing devices. Egg? Been there.


  • Multiple carafes are brewed throughout the day. Let’s track it!

  • 102-oz capacity per carafe; 8-oz per cup. 102/8 = 12.75 cups per carafe

  • I’m going to measure the carafe with a "hacked" bathroom scale using the SparkFun Qwiic Scale - NAU7802 with the SparkFun Load Sensor Combinator. The weight of the carafe will indicate how much coffee remains. Maybe I'll build a scale to better fit the carafe.

    alt text

  • I will use a SparkFun Thing Plus - ESP32WROOM to host a custom web page with live updates so employees can check the status of the coffee situation remotely (and maybe take side bets on how long the coffee sits at 5-10 percent because no one wants to make new coffee).

  • When was the coffee brewed (subsequently, how fresh is the coffee?)?

  • Using multiple SparkFun LuMini LED Matrices - 8x8 (64 x APA102-2020), I will create a coffee level indicator that will live on or near the carafe.

  • I'll possibly use RFID to differentiate between the two carafes. We currently have two that we cycle through.

SparkFun Qwiic Scale - NAU7802

SparkFun Qwiic Scale - NAU7802

SparkFun LuMini LED Matrix - 8x8 (64 x APA102-2020)

SparkFun LuMini LED Matrix - 8x8 (64 x APA102-2020)

SparkFun Load Sensor Combinator

SparkFun Load Sensor Combinator


SparkFun Thing Plus - ESP32 WROOM

7 Retired

Only Time will tell...

Winter is approaching here at SparkFun headquarters and the temperature dropped a little the last couple days. That will definitely cause an up-tick in warm beverage consumption. How will this winter compare to next winter? What, if any, drop off of coffee consumption will there be when the weather warms back up?

Tell me about your coffee rituals, preferences or habits. How would you set up the perfect coffee station? Do you fall into a group of coffee drinkers not mentioned? Let me know.

Cheers to your next cup!

Comments 12 comments

  • Member #134773 / about 5 years ago / 2

    Just be aware that there are those of us who think that what you "coffee snobs" drink tastes like something imported from the planet Uranus.... (I, for one, detest stuff like Starbucks... and think that the planet is slowly going to Hades in the proverbial handbasket by insisting on replacing good coffee with this and replicas...)

    ;-). :-) ;-)

    • Tron Monroe / about 5 years ago / 2

      Dunkin any day of the week!

    • Member #134773 / about 5 years ago / 2

      I should add that we can still be friends, despite our difference of opinion as to what makes a good cup of Joe...

    • Sembazuru / about 5 years ago / 1

      To be fair, many "coffee snobs" that I know also agree that Starbucks coffee is crap...

  • This is cool. My son is working on an engineering project for school. Its a project to use a cell phone to fill up the Kuerig coffee maker with water. It is using a ThingPlus32 and the Qwiic relay board to turn on a water pump over BLE.

  • wesgood / about 5 years ago / 1

    I made something similar for our office: it uses a current sensor to follow the brew cycle and sends a Slack alert when the coffee is ready. https://imgur.com/gallery/uQwvy

    We recently moved to the commercial carafe style and I've wanted to update it to use a custom scale mount but I can't get the SF combinator and load cell board to output nice numbers.

    • Tron Monroe / about 5 years ago / 2

      I like your project. I might add the alert feature to our version of RocketChat.

    • Coffee updates on Slack - that's a cool idea! Instead of a load cell, another option is to use the conductive foam IC's sometimes come packaged on. As you compress it, it's resistance drops. Over a limited range, it's surprisingly linear and intrinsically self-damped. I used it on the feet of a walking machine to determine where the C of G was in relation to the feet in contact with the ground. Just sandwich a bit of the foam between two metal pads. Then you just need one Analog pin to read.

      Possibly a better solution might be to use the conductive rubber band https://www.adafruit.com/product/519 (Sorry, couldn't find it on Sparkfun!). Squashing it between two plates works similarly. Probably more hygenic than foam and less likely to set (squash) over time.

      Damn! Another project!

  • Member #432989 / about 5 years ago / 1

    I have that same hand coffee grinder setup for my French Press ritual. I've often thought of building a motorized top for the grinder since that handle comes off. It takes like 3 minutes to turn that sucker by hand for a single carafe of FP! But I figured the handle gives enough leverage to make the grind happen and a direct motor strong enough would be about the size of the carafe!

    • Tron Monroe / about 5 years ago / 1

      I've been tempted to connect a power drill with a 5-point socket to the grinder...

  • Member #752090 / about 5 years ago / 1

    In our office we have a smart wall socket that can also measure power consumption. Then when it notices the power consumption rises and drops it sends a message to RocketChat telling all who want to know there is fresh coffee.

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